Being Thankful for Small Victories

 

I went into this season with a lot of negativity towards this holiday. It’s hard to be thankful when you feel like you are being denied the one thing that would complete you. It’s the season where families come together which means that unfortunately it’s a season filled with reminders that I am still without a child and that undoubtedly makes me question a lot of things, including my faith.

For me, one of the hardest things in this journey has been keeping faith in God. I grew up in a small, Free-Will Baptist church and my faith is very important to me. I don’t talk about it often because for me this is a part of me that is very personal. I know this sometimes leads people to think that I am just not as deeply connected to God as I should be, but I feel this is just who I am and I feel my relationship with Him grows each and every year.However, it’s been hard to not be resentful sometimes or all the time… It’s difficult for me to try to understand why He would make this journey so hard on me, especially when I see people everyday that shouldn’t be having children. Keeping faith is tough and I don’t have any answers as to why God is allowing this to happen to me. I may never have answers and I would be lying if I said that didn’t bother me, but I also know sometimes that sometimes keeping faith does not come easy and that is just part of it.

What has helped me the most of late is a story in the Bible about Job. As a child I thought that this was the worst thing that could ever be done. I couldn’t even begin to try to understand why God would allow someone who obeyed and loved Him so much to endure so much pain. It seemed incredulous to me that God would kill a righteous mans family  along with many other horrible things just to prove to Satan that Job would remain obedient to God. Yet, now I can see that in putting Job through all that suffering, Job was able to witness to his friends who didn’t believe. Through Job, God showed that even though it may feel like there is absolutely no reason on this planet that you should have to be suffering He has a plan and if you keep your faith in him something good will come of it. I may not see the end of this dark tunnel yet, but I know there is a light at the end of it. Just as God gave Job double the blessings in the end, I know that eventually good will come of my own suffering. It may be a long time before I get to see that good, but God always has a reason and that is something that this holiday I was able to see a glimpse of.

Most people know that I have been waiting a long time for an appointment with the infertility clinic. It’s a very long waiting list and the last time I spoke to the appointment line I was told to not even expect to be seen until later this coming summer. To say it was disappointing would be an understatement. So it was a giant surprise this week when I got a call from the clinic letting me know a spot had opened up and it was mine! I am now going to be seen on December 21st. It may not be the big blessing I am holding hope for, but it was something and it came right when I needed it.

God didn’t however stop there this week. As some know, Mark decided to reenlist and so we have been waiting to hear where his next duty station would be. Yes, I might have been hoping for Hawaii (who wouldn’t?!) but we found out the other day we will be heading to Twentynine Palms in the Mojave Desert, in late January. It isn’t the most enchanting destination for sure, but it does mean that we will be able to continue our infertility journey with the clinic at Balboa Naval Hospital. Which is a big blessing when you think about it as Balboa is one of the few hospitals out there for military and their families that has an infertility clinic that also applies some discounts towards treatments. So while it will be a bit inconvenient to drive 4 to 5 hours to my infertility appointments it is a much better outcome than we could have hoped for. There are so many other bases Mark could have been sent to next that are much, much farther away so perhaps God was looking out for us after all! And who knows, maybe the next base we go to will be Hawaii! A girl can hope!

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A guide on Natural Supplements for Fertility

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Before I discovered I was battling infertility I was bombarded with the age old advice, “Just stop trying and it will happen”. Well, that advice is quite frankly the dumbest and least helpful advice on the planet. If that offends you then it is very likely that you did not have trouble conceiving. So in an effort to be helpful I have compiled a list of things that can possibly help. Please notice I said possibly! This is a list that will likely only benefit those who have infertility and know what is causing it and those who don’t have infertility, but are simply taking longer than they’d like to conceive. Yes, most of us with infertility will need a doctor to help us conceive. But when you see the cost of those treatments I say it doesn’t hurt to try something else first or possibly while you are waiting to be seen by the fertility clinic!

  • Vitamin B6: This is known to help with progesterone levels. Helpful for women who have a luteal phase defect.
  • Vitex: This helps regulate hormones and has been known to help with ovulation. This is something that is good to take if you have abnormal cycles as it can help you become regular. You can buy it separately but I would just buy it in a fertility blend to be honest.
  •    Maca Root: Helps improve fertility and sex drive. It’s great for those who are maybe just taking a bit longer than they’d like to, to get pregnant. I do not recommend this if you have thyroid problems. If you want to take it and have a thyroid condition you NEED to ask your doctor first! Adverse side effects have been reported in thyroid patients.
  • Evening Primrose Oil: Helps with EWCM. For those that don’t know what that is, that is the cervical mucus you basically need if you want to get pregnant. I personally have never taken this.
  • Preseed: If you need to use lube this is the lube you should use. Fun fact! Most lube kills sperm, this is sperm friendly.
  •    Prenatals: Extremely important. You should be taking this if you are trying to get pregnant no matter what. Prenatals are the most beneficial in early pregnancy so take them now.
  • Baby Aspirin: Helps blood flow to the uterus. Yes, it needs to be baby aspirin. Adult will not do.
  • Vitamin E: Helps overall fertility
  • Pineapple Core: helps implantation occur successfully. You should eat it during the 5 days after confirmed ovulation.

You should not take everything all at once. Read what they are all for and consult a doctor or holistic health practitioner.

 

The In-between Moment

Waiting is in my experience never pretty.

 

There is really nothing new to update the world yet, but for the sake of my sanity I decided it was time to write something, so as life would have it I’m going to share about a point in every month that I don’t really like to talk about. The two-week wait…. a truly dreadful time for me.

I am currently in my two-week wait and let’s just say emotions are running high. It’s a combination of hope, dread, and of course HORMONES. For those that don’t know or remember the two week wait or TWW is a period of time in between ovulation and your monthly, bloody reminder that your dreams are dashed again. It’s pretty much the worst. You would think your period would be the worst time when trying to get pregnant but no. Trust me when I say the TWW is the absolute worst time of the month. It’s the time where you really start thinking about pregnancy and babies. Hopes run so high that you start thinking every twinge your body makes is a sign that you succeeded. You completely forget that a period also has symptoms and unfortunately they often mirror pregnancy symptoms. Also don’t forget the hormones, being so close to your possible period means that your body is basically a walking, talking factory of aggression and tears. Add hormones in to a desperate hope for a baby and let’s just say the outcome isn’t ever pretty.

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Waiting is the name of the game when trying and it isn’t at all easy to do. During this time you have to choose between preparing for your monthly, unwelcome visitor or the possibility of something much, much sweeter. I can attest to the fact that almost always the possibility of being pregnant wins. I have come to the conclusion that women’s product companies know this fact too as the tampons are almost always right next to the pregnancy tests! Let’s just say I never leave with just tampons… if I even buy tampons at all. Today was no different as I battled within myself in the aisle of the commissary, ultimately going with the overpriced pregnancy tests.

It almost feels wrong to buy tampons during the TWW, like you have already decided you have failed for the month. Of course, I hate myself every month when my period arrives and I realize I have no tampons, but my habits still don’t change. I continue to hope every month and every month my hopes are dashed. If there is one thing I could give up in this trying to conceive journey it would be the TWW. Life would be so much simpler if we could just have sex and then take a test instead of all this waiting. The waiting is what makes the trying to so hard in my opinion. It’s one of the cruelest mind games life plays on us and there’s no other way to describe it other than to say it sucks.

So that is where I am right now. If you see me this week you’ll probably notice I’m on edge. I feel like crap because PMS sucks, I am exhausted from hoping that it isn’t PMS, and I am overly emotional. Just know that if I snap at you it isn’t intentional and I’ll be back to normal in a week. Right now though, I am busy praying every single day/spare moment that God will give me what I want already and I am trying to hold it together as I very impatiently wait for my turn.

I Remember You

Hope is what keeps us going through the storm.

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   Rainbow Baby: A baby born after a miscarriage, still birth, neonatal death, or infant loss. After a storm a rainbow of hope always appears, hence the name Rainbow Baby.

So yesterday was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, I however did not post intentionally. I wasn’t honestly sure if I should. To me that day just isn’t something I completely feel comfortable being part of, not because I am ashamed of my losses but because I feel guilty for putting myself into a group of women where many have lost their babies at points that are far more devastating than mine. Women that remember this day have often lost their children at much later stages in pregnancy and many have even met their babies outside of the womb before they had to say goodbye. For me my losses occurred when most wouldn’t have even known about the life that was growing inside them and if they had they probably would have suffered through the loss quietly. For me though, I let it out there. I can’t suffer alone, I’m just not that person.

So yesterday I turned to the infertility page I am on and let it out there. It may not be a physical place I can go but it is somewhere I feel safe and never feel guilt. It is day’s like yesterday where a lot of us retreat as the term “rainbow baby” begins making it rounds on Facebook. It’s a term that not a whole lot of people know but recently it’s been getting some attention so I thought I would talk about it today. I placed the definition above but I wanted to explain why it’s something that is hard for some of us to see. It’s not that we don’t like the term, I think it is beautiful personally. It stands for hope to me and hope is basically what keeps me going. But, it’s also a term that I can’t even think about without feeling guilty. While I yearn to have a child, whether or not I will tell people that the child is my rainbow baby is something that eats at me often, especially of recent. You see, there’s a lot of us who feel we didn’t experience enough pain to earn that term. But, last night I came across something that helped ease my guilt. Suffering is not a competition and just because someone else may have suffered more than me it does not excuse my own pain. So while I felt guilt yesterday I do not today. What matters is that I lost something precious and no matter how fleeting my barely conceived babies were they still existed and thus they deserve to be remembered.

The day hasn’t come yet where I can say this is my rainbow baby, but when it does I think I will say it proudly. After all, the term came from the concept of it having to rain in order for a rainbow to come and I think I have endured plenty of rain.

Those Left Behind

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I have stressed many times that I am not bitter. I may breakdown upon seeing a pregnancy announcement and I may take a tiny bit longer to congratulate a friend, but I do my best to avoid feeling hatred towards them. After all, a baby is something to be celebrated and I would never wish what I am going through upon anyone else. However, I admit that sometimes I wish people knew just how difficult it is for me to stay neutral.

I’ve had my moments were I was sure I was going to become that bitter person that distanced themselves from everyone that had children or was expecting. I’ve cried angry tears as more of my friends have gone on to have children and left me behind in that step to motherhood that I so desperately wanted to take with them. It’s hard to not be angry when I have been preparing my body and my mind for so long for something that doesn’t seem to want to happen. It’s even harder to not become resentful when you are left behind to watch your friends turn into mothers.

I am trapped somewhere in between the worlds of the childless and parenthood. It’s a place that a few of us are left. I am stuck ready to take that step into the land of diapers, play-dates, and sticky fingers, but by no choice of my own I am left watching from a distance. I can’t completely assimilate into the culture of parenthood because of the obvious – I don’t have children. As much as I would like to, I can’t plan play-dates when I have no children of my own. I can’t relate to the new mom who is having trouble breastfeeding, nor can I empathize with the parents who are exhausted from a child’s new sleeping schedule. I can sit there and listen, but I can’t add my experience in, which leads me to just feeling deeply depressed over the whole situation. Perhaps it is for this reason that when people ask if I have children and I answer that I don’t, that I don’t typically receive an invitation to meet-up. Don’t get me wrong though, I have been blessed with several friends who have done their best to include me despite it all. I am so incredibly grateful that they don’t see me as a childless intruder, trying to butt in where I don’t belong, but sometimes that is just how I feel. It’s not their fault, but sometimes I am just overwhelmed by the world of parenthood and I need to retreat.

Which leads me to the world of the childless…. it’s not a place I am happy. You would think I would be happy around others who have no kids but that is literally where our similarities stop. Most of the women I have met in this group are still living life to the craziest – which don’t get me wrong can be fun, but it’s not something I want to do enough to spend much time with them. It’s also very hard to enjoy being around these people when you are yearning for admittance into parenthood. I have a few friends located in this world and I do mean few… very few. The one’s I do have help me live. They know what I want, but they also know how to keep me grounded. They can’t quite drag me into as much craziness as they may like but they pull enough of me out so that I can go feeling somewhat normal.

That somewhat normal brings me back to my real place in these worlds. The in-between, the place no one wants to be stuck in. Having nowhere to really say you belong isn’t the best feeling, but for now it is where I have to learn to be okay. I have to keep myself whole in a place that feels unwelcome and at times is very scary. So the next time you think of judging someone for not saying congratulations fast enough or you find yourself saying those infamous words, “It’s not my fault she can’t have kids”, please know it isn’t that we blame you really. We are just trying our best to hold it together in this place where we are poked, prodded, cut open, and all sorts of horrible things just so we can one day gain our own admittance into motherhood. It’s a difficult time for those of us left behind and we can’t always be there for you, because sometimes it is all we can do to be there for ourselves.

That Light, Pink Line

Sometimes, moments of hope bring the most pain.

 

When I met Mark I saw a future that I didn’t ever think about. It sounds corny I know, but I suddenly realized all I really wanted was a family of my own. It’s not a huge dream but it was my dream and that was enough. I started dreaming about raising our own kids. We’d take them to church every Sunday just like my parents had done with us. We would teach them to be kind, I would teach them to love reading, Mark would teach them how to shoot, and how to be brave. I had a whole future planned for us by the time Mark asked me to marry him. Everything was falling into place, or so I thought.

Then everything sort of unraveled. I kept getting sick and landed myself in the hospital twice while my husband was deployed. I had been to the ER a few times prior over ovarian cysts I kept getting. Doctor’s didn’t really seem concerned so they would just give me pain medication and tell me to follow-up with my primary care doctor. Of course, nothing came of it so it settled back into the back of my mind. Then one night my heart rate decided to just shoot up. It didn’t really alarm me till the next day when I realized it wasn’t going down and it was starting to hurt. So back to the ER we went. The doctor’s found that my thyroxine levels were extremely high. I was given beta blockers to lower my heart rate and a referral to an Endocrinologist. Again, I didn’t really think much of it.

When I finally got in to see my Endocrinologist I had to get a Radioactive Iodine Uptake Test, where I basically had to swallow some sort of pill and come back later for a scan that took forever to see how much of the radioactive tracer my thyroid absorbed from my blood. From that my doctor diagnosed me with Grave’s Disease. I was then taken to a room where a panel of doctors laid out my options for treatment. I was a little overwhelmed by so many people firing off their opinions on what was best so I chose what was in my opinion the least invasive – Antithyroid Medication. It seemed pretty simple, take the pills and my thyroid function would hopefully go back to normal. I was upset when I learned I’d have to wait till my levels got back to normal to try to get pregnant but again I thought I’d be okay and went along with it.

Some time went by and the pills just were not working. My thyroid levels were fluctuating dramatically and to make matters worse the pills were extremely difficult to swallow. They tasted so bitter and for some reason I found it hard to take them without tasting them. I was irritated because all I wanted was to get back on the baby making train. I knew my health was important but I was starting to doubt my ability to wait. Then, I developed a case of hives that would not go away. I went back to my Endocrinologist who decided to switch me to PTU which my body responded to much better. I was told to wait a few months and then I could start trying to get pregnant. I was happy. Good news for once.

Everything seemed to be back on track for me. For the first few months I really thought that all that waiting was over. I was convinced I’d be pregnant within a few months and so I told my husband we shouldn’t stress about it. We’d just let it happen naturally. Three months into that and I started getting antsy and so my obsession with buying ovulation tests and pregnancy tests began. I became what people in the infertility world call a Pee on a Stick Addict. I read everything I could get my hands on that dealt with getting pregnant. Many of the things I read said stress would affect your ability to get pregnant so I did my best to not be stressed. Then, I’d say about 7 or 8 months into trying I started to panic and so I joined every TTC group I could find. I learned how to temp, how to chart, how to read cervical mucus, I learned and tried about anything and everything people suggested. We used special, sperm friendly lube that cost a ton. Nothing was working. It had been over a year and a half at this point and I was angry. I was angry at the people who got pregnant so easily, I was angry at the people who had kids, I was angry at my doctors for giving me hope, and I was extremely angry at myself.

I stopped liking myself. I couldn’t give up on my dream and yet I was so tired of it all. It seemed so hopeless and every month that went by, every two-week wait (that time in between ovulation and period time) I would get my hopes up and then sit in the bathroom and cry as I held another negative test in my hands. It was infuriating and I didn’t think it could get much worse. Then worse came. It was the first of what would be several where I would get a positive. I was so excited. The first positive pregnancy test I got, I rushed to show Mark and my friends. I was beaming as I showed my friends at the pool one day. I hadn’t even had it confirmed by my doctor yet, but I didn’t care. I thought we’d be okay, I thought this was a win. And then it was gone. That positive line faded the closer I got to Monday when I could go in to confirm the pregnancy. I was terrified. I didn’t know what was happening and everything online was scary.

Monday came. I was a week late for my period by that point. I started bleeding that day and so I didn’t go to confirm. I knew it wasn’t a good sign and I just didn’t want to let my hope go yet. At least at that point all I had was fear, I could still hope I was wrong. On Wednesday I went to my pcm who explained what a chemical pregnancy is. She explained that they are fairly common when trying to get pregnant. Most people don’t notice they’ve happened because usually you will only be a few days late before you start your period, the ones who do catch it are usually the ones that are testing before their period. Basically it’s any miscarriage that occurs before or at 6 weeks. It all sounds so clinical, like they can’t acknowledge that there was something. Even if it was small it was something. I didn’t know how to feel. Of course, she went over how it was normal to still feel grief and that if anything my period would just be a little heavier than normal and then she sent me on my way.

I tried to push it to the back of my mind. Telling the one’s who had known about it, that it was gone was awkward. I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. On one hand I had been pregnant but on the other all I had to remind me of that was a very light, pink line. The bleeding was just like a normal period for me and to be honest I had hoped it would be worse. I wanted something to remind me that it had been there, but nothing did. A couple more months went by and I pushed it all back into the deeper parts of my mind and focused back on TTC again.

Then… I got another light, pink line. This time I didn’t say anything. I told one person in confidence and decided to wait to confirm till the line got darker. After all, I was testing early again. The line never got darker. I was pretty sure I knew what it meant but I tried to hold hope. Another trip to my pcm confirmed another chemical pregnancy. At this point my pcm was a little concerned and told me that if it happened again she’d want to see me. Sure enough a month later the same thing happened. I went back to my pcm after the bleeding was over and she decided to try me on prednisone around the time implantation would occur if we were successful in fertilizing the egg that month. Supposedly prednisone helps with implantation and preventing early miscarriages. Unfortunately, for me it didn’t work.

And now we have arrived back to the part of the journey I am currently at. I’m not trying right now as my husband isn’t here to try at the moment and I am waiting to be seen by the infertility clinic. Hopefully the beginning of November my husband will be able to get his Semen Analysis and I will hopefully be seen by the end of October. It’s been a rough two years of trying and I know that it may be a while longer and maybe not the way we planned for it to happen but one day I’m going to be a mom. And once I have that sweet baby of mine, all the pain and the tears will be worth it.